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RFID News Roundup

Toulouse-Blagnac Airport to test NFC and SIM technology for passenger check-in; Times-7 signs SkyeTek as North American reseller for UHF antennas; Vizinex RFID announces preferred partner program; Inteligensa intros the i-Thing, an RFID-enabled payment method.
May 31, 2012The following are news announcements made during the past week.

Toulouse-Blagnac Airport to Test NFC and SIM Technology for Passenger Check-in
France's Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is testing Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology in Blackberry smartphones, in order to allow passengers to pass through the airport's checks, controls and gates using only their mobile phones. The trial is a joint effort between the airport and SITA (an information technology and services provider for the air-transport industry), Orange and BlackBerry. SITA developed a proof-of-concept of the solution in January 2012 (see RFID News Roundup: SITA Develops NFC Demo Solution for Airports, Travelers). During the trial, 50 selected passengers are testing the service. The Blackberry smartphones effectively become the passengers' passes, allowing access to car parking, the boarding area (via a premium access zone) and a premium passenger lounge. Multifunction RFID readers, provided by DESKO, are being installed in a special parking area, at the security-check line (as part of a self-boarding gate or turnstile), and in the airport lounge. Participating passengers also receive up-to-the-minute information, such as changes to their flight times, departure hall or boarding gate, with updates sent to them via instant-messaging. Once a participant parks his car and taps his phone by the readers in the parking area, the phone will begin receiving the messages, along with flight information.

Times-7 Signs SkyeTek as North American Reseller for UHF Antennas
Times-7, a New Zealand-based manufacturer of RFID reader antennas, has announced a partnership with SkyeTek, a provider of RFID reader technology headquartered in Denver, Colo. SkyeTek is now a North American reseller for Times-7's line of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) antennas, which includes models for industrial applications, asset and inventory tracking, and baggage handling, point-of-sale (POS) and security applications. The SlimLine A6031, a circular polarized flat-panel antenna measuring 12 millimeters (0.5 inch) in thickness, is designed for applications in which available physical space is constrained and a 4-meter (13-foot) read-range performance is required. The SlimLine A7040—an 8-millimeter (0.3-inch)-thick, linear polarized flat-panel antenna available in custom lengths—is designed to be installed into existing shelving systems, to provide real-time identification or inventory of assets or products. The SlimLine A5530 is a 12-millimeter (0.5-inch)-thick ground-mat antenna for applications optimized for moving products or assets, particularly in areas where side antennas are unsuitable (see Brouha Uses RFID to Measure Loyalty). The SlimLine A6020 is a portal antenna for conveyor-belt-based RFID applications that can be installed into existing infrastructure. According to Times-7, the underbelt antenna rests on the conveyor tray, directly beneath the moving belt, and the side and top antennas are also low-profile, producing an even, balanced field. Flexible mounting and connection options are available. The antenna's near- and far-field radiation patterns are optimized to read tags directly on or close to the belt, the company reports. The A6020, A6031, A7040 and A5530 models are available in versions designed for the European (ETSI) UHF RFID band (864 to 869 MHz), or for the U.S. (FCC) UHF RFID band (902 to 928 MHz). The A1001 version is a wideband near-field UHF antenna with a read distance of 0 to 10 centimeters (0 to 3.9 inches), making it suitable for POS and security applications. According to SkyeTek, all of Times-7's antennas have been benchmarked and validated in the company's labs for being combined with its embedded reader modules, software and multiplexers.

Vizinex RFID Announces Preferred Partner Program
Vizinex RFID, a manufacturer of RFID tags for diversified asset-tracking applications, has announced a formal partnership program that the company says is designed to expand its channel of systems integrators and strengthen its relationship with current and prospective participants. The firm, which recently changed its name from RCD Technology to Vizinex RFID (see Vizinex Releases Four New Tags for Specialized Applications), reports that the partnership program will help provide more robust RFID solutions to meet the growing demand in the health-care, data-center and federal government markets. Vizinex's product line of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags includes a group of mount-on-metal tags: the Sentry-AST Metal tag (for managing tools, IT assets, medical devices and work-in-process), the Sentry-AST Worldwide (for data center and IT asset management, as well as global supply chain logistics) and the Sentry-AST Slim (for tracking tools, weapons and IT assets). Vizinex also offers the Sentry-AST Multi Surface and Sentry-AST Duo tags as on- and off-metal tags for use in data centers, and for IT asset-tracking applications (see Comcast Puts RFID in Data Centers to Track Assets), along with a portfolio of specialty tags, including the Sentry-AST Ultra Slim (for sample tracking, tool tracking, weapons tracking and IT asset tracking), the Sentry AST Autoclave (for medical assets, lab equipment and metal instrument trays), the Sentry-AST High Temp (for manufacturing assets and WIP components), the Sentry AST Extreme (for tracking outdoor assets, chemical sprays, hazardous materials and tires), and the Sentry-AST Long Range (for cargo and containers, yard or fleet management, and military assets). Under the terms of the partnership agreement, the companies will select or recommend Vizinex's RFID tags when appropriate for an end user, maintain a working knowledge of the tag maker's products, and share market forecast information, in addition to representing themselves as Vizinex partners. In return, each partner will receive best pricing for the quantity ordered, sales-support materials, product samples, access to Vizinex's technical experts, advance notice of new tag technology developments, and technical support for all Vizinex products. According to Vizinex, it currently maintains a working relationship with more than 100 systems integrators that will be offered the opportunity to participate in the new partnership program.

Inteligensa Intros the i-Thing, an RFID-enabled Payment Method
Inteligensa, a provider of identification and payment systems, has announced the i-Thing: an alternative, RFID-enabled contactless-payment solution consisting of software and RFID tags and readers compliant with the ISO 14443 A/B standard. The solution enables consumers to use their cell phones and the i-Thing—an RFID tag in the form of a key fob and sticker—to pay for a range of goods and services, such as transportation fares, metered parking and tickets, says Adrian Rosas, Inteligensa's corporate manager of micropayment RFID solutions. The solution is suitable for low-value transactions that do not require a PIN or ID confirmation, the company reports. The sticker version can simply be attached to the back of a mobile phone, while the key-fob version may be hung on a key ring. The company says the i-Thing is a useful and less complex intermediate step toward the use of Near Field Communication (NFC)-based contactless-payment solutions. Inteligensa is presently focused on providing the i-Thing to customers in Mexico and Central and South America, Rosas says. Brazilian company Libercard is using the i-Thing system for the contactless-payment cards it offers to consumers in that country; the two firms have partnered on contactless-payment initiatives for several years (see RFID News Roundup: Libercard, ViVOtech and Inteligensa Team on Brazilian NFC Project).
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